Four Days to Go!

Words from a fellow Nebraska 1969 reunioner.  Shelley sent me this.  It is written by a Kearney High Class of 1969er who now lives in Indiana.  She says she thinks it was published in the “New Albany Tribune” in Indiana.

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION ’69     by Doug Olson

I took a journey back in space and time last week, logging more than 1,800 miles in a rented Dodge to attend my fortieth class reunion in Kearney, Nebraska, a surprisingly robust town of 30,000 where I grew up in the fifties and sixties.  Some came much further than I did, in one case, Washington state and in another, Massachusetts.

But come we did.  The ninety-five or so of us that attended this once-a-decade event almost universally agreed that we were almost pulled back to our hometown by some primal, mysterious inner magnet.  In a small sense, we were like the Jews of the diaspora drawn back to
Israel after
WWII.  The old ties beckoned; we answered the call.  For me, it was beyond logic, intellect and reason; I just knew I was supposed to be there and adjusted my schedule accordingly.  I had it easy – four pleasant days of travel along well-maintained interstates.  A few of my fellow pilgrims dodged tornadoes on the road back; one found herself hiding in a farmhouse cellar for a time with complete strangers, then continuing on, the inner magnet’s draw irresistible.

I wonder . . . why are the bonds between us still so strong after 40 long years?  I believe it has to do with the power of a shared block of experiences, experiences that were and are meaningful and that produced a communal memory base.  Though we have all moved on and added individualized 2nd and 3rd stories to our ‘life houses’, a group of us – in this particular case, the 1969 class of Kearney High School – has a common foundation.  For thirteen years or so, as we moved from kindergarten to graduation night, we largely shared the same teachers, coaches, principals, even the same boy and girlfriends.  We won and lost football and basketball games together (in our case, mostly lost!) agonized together over the same algebra and chemistry tests, fell asleep together under the same dull teachers, and even discovered hidden talents together when certain special teachers demanded and got more out of us than we knew we had.  (Think Roberta McKenzie here.)

And we shared so many “firsts” together, back when life seemed to be a never-ending merry-go-round of new experiences.  Of course, I sought out the girl I had shared my first uncertain but hugely passionate kiss with at a 7th grade party, and was humbled when she admitted she didn’t remember the event; I must have been less than impressive that long-ago night.

I found and re-united with the person I had gone hunting with for the very first time without a father along, and the first girl I truly gave my heart to.  We were fellow travelers on the precarious journey from childhood to adolescence to tentative adulthood, and for three days in June, we relived those exciting years in our mind’s eyes.  Throughout the “feel-good vibes” were practically oozing from the floorboards, at least for me.  Geo-politicians, maybe the Arabs and Jews, should study this gathering as a model for achieving lasting world peace.  Obamanites and Nobomanites blended seamlessly at the buffet table and bonfire; “no politics allowed here” seemed to be the unwritten but iron rule.  Likewise with dogmatic religiosity; the “no preaching until 2:00 a.m.” stricture prevailed, and everybody had left by 1:00 a.m.

Oh yes, Rodney King would have been proud of us!  If a classmate with a large red dot on his forehead had showed up, I doubt anybody would have commented on it. I’ll go you one further; if a former classmate had shown up with a large red eye in the middle of his forehead, we would have likely ignored it and just tried to figure out what classes we’d had with him, and had life treated him well, and did he have a family, etc.   We’d waited ten years for these three days; we weren’t going to screw it up!

Not that spirituality-based conversations were taboo . . . far from it.  We found like-minded souls and talked long and earnestly (I live for these interactions) about any cosmic breadcrumbs we had gleaned on life’s pathways.  We admitted to false starts, to falls from grace, to infatuations with cults, pseudo religions and Messiah wannabees.  We are after all, the ‘Woodstock Nation‘ generation, and we fell for almost everything back in those crazy years as our ships were tossed about in the tempest that was the late sixties.  An unfortunate few among us have been fatalities over the years, and those we remembered and mourned communally, as tribes have always done.  All in all, it made for some great conversations, talk many of us are continuing via the school’s website chat room.

And we are a tribe, you know, a familial band of brothers and sisters with a common ancestry,  a shared memory stockpile and a bond of affection between us that transcends years and miles.  Until the next clan gathering, then, stay well, love much and say often – “Class of ’69, you rock”!

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Countdown to the Reunion

Only a few days left before we meet in the Bow!  I look forward to seeing you all.  It should be a fun time.

Bill F has been working on the CDs of the booklet so we will have copies at the reunion for everyone. Linda (LD) has uploaded the booklet on a webpage so we can peruse that at our leisure.  There will be more information about that at the reunion.  It is so cool to have so many “techno” literate people in our class!  Shows we’re not a bunch of old fogeys ready to sit in our rocking chairs!

Along with the booklet CDs, Bill also burned the DVDs of the class pictures you all sent to me earlier.  I created a Point Power presentation, set it to ’60’s music and sent the DVD to Bill.  He burned 50 or 60 copies of it for the class to keep.  Thank you, Bill!

Dorsett, Jodene, Darwin and their committees have made the arrangements for the banquet, the food selection, the decorations and memorabilia.  Be sure to bring your nostalgic items so we can have a lot to reminisce about!  Mike H has spent time at the computer creating and printing up nametags using our Senior pictures as well as helping me off and on with my IT questions or difficulties.  I also appreciate all the encouragement and support from Mike, Deb G, Jerry L, Dan J, Nick, Deb Mc, Linda, Lana, Bill F, Shelley, Bruce, Jan and others who have prodded me on when things looked bad or sent appreciation notes that helped “refill my cup.”  I especially want to thank Mike B for handling the account and helping to keep the books.  Mike has been a tremendous help…and he is hosting our barbecue!   Thank you very much, Mike!!

As if you haven’t figured it out by now, this has been a group effort with input from almost every member of our class.  That is why this reunion is going to be the BEST EVER!  It may have taken a little more time in some aspects to communicate all the different things that were going on and to coordinate the committees, but the success of the reunion belongs to YOU!  I merely served as a conduit of information and a cheerleader for our class. (Oh, my gosh!  Me, a cheerleader?!  “Give me a B!” Go, team!)

I wish you all could make it (Shelley, Bruce, Cortland, Carol, and the rest) but your help and support added much to our success.  It is nice that we all reconnected at least and I hope we can continue to communicate and maybe see each other someday.  We could potentially set up an ongoing webpage that we could use to maintain communication and share pictures, etc.  Shelley showed us the one that Kearney Class of 1969 uses or the page that Linda has set up may have further potential.  Look for developments later this year, in that regard.

So, I’ll see you in 10 days!  We have some fun times ahead.  I keep getting more RSVPs so we should have a good crowd.  I think I have over 40 classmates on the list now (not including spouses…could almost double that number with spouses)  My main concern is finding the time and opportunity to visit with everyone!

Safe travels, Godspeed, happy trails, and we’ll see you soon! 

I Did Not Drop Off the Face of the Earth (Yet!)

 I have been remiss about blogging lately.  I apologize.  So much going on including new grandbaby, visitors, fun times and work.   We were in Chicago June 5-7 for Baby Girl’s baptism.  What a wonderful time!

Amen   Baptism with grandparents

Arent I cute Grandpa Baptismday

Dennis’ mom is still at our house.  She came the weekend before we went to Chicago and will go home this weekend.  She flew to Chicago with Dennis for the baptism.  Joe, Mike and I drove Friday and had a very fun road trip to Chicago.  The boys were excited to see their new niece.  They did great with her.

Last night we went to the College World Series.  What a blast!  It’s strange that we had never gone before since we love baseball and we’ve lived in Omaha all these years.  The boys have gone with friends, but Dennis and I had never been.  It was an experience! 

We took the shuttle from the Westroads to Rosenblatt, pretty much a cross-town trip.  It was the best way to go, though, because parking is very difficult.  Rosenblatt is in eastern Omaha, near the zoo, near the river. 

Most of the homes around there are small 100+ years old bungalows.  People in the neighborhoods offer their property for parking at anywhere from $9-20 per car.  I don’t blame them.  They have to put up with all the traffic, people, and noise.  They should be able to profit from it a little!  Cars are parked in the front and back yards 5-10 deep.  The little Catholic Church (St. Anne’s, I believe) also rents its parking lot out to visitors.  I am sure it is a major fundraiser for them each year.  Along 10th Street, in the non-residential blocks, people have large tents set up for beer gardens, souvenier stands, and food stands.  There is a carnival atmosphere as people mill about, looking at all the goods, stopping to relax and have a beer.  Since the CWS is an NCAA event, alcohol is not allowed inside the stadium, but that doesn’t stop people from imbibing in areas surrounding the stadium!  Once on the stadium grounds itself, more booths can be found….ESPN, Coke, various sports companies and areas for the kids with batting cages and games.  ESPN has their cameras everywhere.  The excitiement is palpable as we walk through the area, smelling the roasting hotdogs, Bloomin’ Onions, and funnel cakes.  “Programs!  Programs!” a vendor yells while others collect money for the food people are buying. 

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Road to Omaha,” the landmark bronze statue of the three baseball players greet visitors as they enter the stadium. Joe comments that one of the players is now coach of one of the teams playing tonight.  He used to play college ball for Creighton.

The ticket taker scans the bar code on the tickets as we enter.  A sign reminds us that, if we leave the stadium and want to return, we must have our tickets “descanned.”  The term is a new one for Dennis and I!

We find our seats, Section K, Row Twenty-Seven, Seats 12-15, right above home plate. Great view!  Plus, we are covered in case of rain.  Much better than the seats Joe had in far left field last time he attended with his friend, Katie, and got sunburned in the heat.  Mike couldn’t make it because he had to work, so Katie came with us. 

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Our seats are in the center of the row, so we have to excuse ourselves as we pass by 10-12 people already seated.  An LSU fan, seated at the end of the row, hands us beads as we pass by him!  It feels like Mardi Gras in this section of the stadium.  The LSU fans have beads for all!  A couple sits in front of us, the woman holding a sign that reads “LSU!” on one side in big purple letters and “Blake Dean” on the other side with a picture of bomb like you used to see in old Mad magazines in the “Spy vs Spy” cartoons.  She waves the sign as the team comes out on the field.  I assume she is Blake Dean’s mother.

Lots of laughter and banter fills the stadium as the game begins.  The foul balls come in our direction and are stopped by the huge net that covers the area behing home plate.  A ball girl runs out to catch the ball as it falls from the net.  The crowd cheers as she catches the ball barehanded.  “Brave girl,” I muse. “I think I would use a glove!”  Another foul ball.  This time the ball girl misses it and falls from the net to the ground  The crowd moans, “Ahhhh.”  The ball players probably wonder what all the commotion is coming from the stands! 

After awhile, an LSU player comes up to bat.  The couple in front of us turns and tells us he is a very good player, but he is in a slump.  His last name is Mitchell.  At bat, he hits a single!  The crowd goes wild!  You would think he hit a homerun!  The crowd is on their feet, whooping and hollaring, Louisiana cheers everywhere!  The woman turns to me, very excited.  “It worked!” she says.  “We lifted the curse.”  As the crowd calms down, she tells me how, last night, a group of Louisiana fans met in the parking lot.  In the dark of night, a young college girl dragged a chicken by its legs across the parking lot.  The young girl chanted something as she pulled the chicken.  Arriving at a designated area, the crowd of bead-bedecked LSU fans gathered around the girl and chicken.  The chicken was then held upside down over a tiki of some sort while the crowd chanted something about lifting the curse from Player Mitchell.  Then, they all drank a shot of rum. 

As the woman explained to us what they did, Katie and I both asked, “Where did you get the chicken?”  The woman answered in her Cajun drawl, “WalMart.  It was a three pound three ounce chicken we got.  We decided since Mitchell’s number is Three, we needed a three pound chicken.  AND, it cost $3.00!” she added in triumph, as if another “three” would make the magic work even better!  Katie and I laughed as we realized we both thought it was a live chicken they had!  Sort of a stereotypical moment, I guess! Bayou voodoo and all that.

Mitchell played well the rest of the game, but never made a run.  He got to base, but then the next guys would strike out.  Maybe the fans should have found a live chicken!

At any rate, LSU beat Arkansas 9-1, and we went home, happy, tired and full of memories of a wonderful, strange and exciting College World Series.

I am looking forward to another fun time in Broken Bow, Nebraska, in just a few more weeks.  I hope you all are ready for the reunion.  People on some of the committees are working on last-minute details as are individuals.  A lot of hard work is going into the reunion to make it a success.  You all should have received your invitations by now.  Let me know if you have not.  Thank you to Jerry L, Bill F and Shelley for your work on the invitations.  They looked fantastic!  Great job!  So far over 30 people have responded, most with spouses coming, too, so the count is nearly 60 people.  If you haven’t sent your RSVP in, please do so SOON!

Shelley told me that her husband’s class in Kearney had their reunion last weekend and it was big success.  Here is what she wrote: Dave’s KHS Class of ’69 reunion was last weekend, and it sounds like a fun time was had by all.  You should read some of the posts people wrote after they left–some of them posted prior to returning home.  Two people were there from Boston, and two were there from the Seattle area–so they came from great distances.  Several admitted to crying when it came time to go home, and several others said they kept mentally replaying some of the events, conversations, etc., all the way home–and that they were sorry it had to end so soon.  A few are rallying for a 45 year reunion–but we’ll see.  Seems that the concensus was that most people were surprised by how their classmates had mellowed, and how they had become much kinder and more caring and benevolant than they remembered them to be, 40 years ago.  They participants took up a collection at the bonfire party on Friday night–about 80 people contributed $1,500 to the John Reddy foundation for underprivileged and disadvantaged kids.  Mr. Reddy owned a little grocery store that was close to the junior high and high school, and kids used to swarm the place over lunch hour and after school, and buy cheese slices and candy and Cokes, etc.  Apparently his family wanted to give back to the community so they started the foundation.

 
They all roasted hot dogs and banana boats at the bonfire party on Friday night, and chatted into the wee hours of the morning.  There was golf tournament on Sat. morning, a buffet lunch at KSC (catered by one of the girls in the class), and a dance in the evening.  Then on Sunday morning one of the gals who has become an Episcopal minister spoke at a church service.  One of the guys, who does handmade flutes, mostly for people who have catastrophic illnesses, played a flute he had made for one of the classmates who passed away due to prostate cancer in January.  At the dance on Sat. night, one of the guys did impromptu karoke, singing “Old Time Rock and Roll”, and Candi Imming (class photographer) got it on video camera and put it on the website.  It’s hilarous.  Most people commented that the entire weekend was perfectly planned and commended the people who were responsible for putting it all together. 
 
Somebody made a poster or something with school pictures and names of the deceased classmates. It was available for viewing at the bonfire party (as they called it).  The two guys who put on the Friday night/bonfire festivities read the names on the poster, one by one, and people made brief comments or said short prayers, etc. for each of the people listed and then they put the poster in the bonfire.  Sounds ike there were some tears shed over that.
 
I think the success of the reunion was largely due to the interest generated by everyone’s participation in the website that was created several months prior to the reunion.  Everyone was psyched long before the reunion weekend.  There was taunting regarding who was going to kick whose a@# at the golf game, and dares made as to who would do what, accusations about stupid things people might have done (and probably did do) as teens and pre-teens, etc., pictures of some of the boys playing baseball together, pictures of kids who were confirmed in their church together. Challenges were made as to who would donate the most money to the Reddy fund.  Pictures were posted and viewed and childhood stuff was talked about on the “message forum” prior to the get togethers at the reunion.  People who had never even spoken to one another in school were sending and answering postings to other classmates, either private ones or on the message forum.  All of this served to create (or renew) bonds among many classmates that seemed to be strengthened by the face-to-face meetings at the reunion activities.
 
I hope our reunion goes as well, and I wish I was able to attend.  Please tell me all about it!  Shelley

 

  

Reunion RSVPs

 The reunion RSVPs are beginning to trickle in.  Please return yours as soon as possible.  So far, we have received “yeses” from Mike B, Terry B, Tom, Jerry C., Darwin, Jerry L., Trudie, Jim R., Ronnie S., Jerry S., Chuck, and Jerry V.  Face Book RSVPs are Dorsett, Hob, Jan, Cheryl, Deb & Frank, Doug, Nick and Becky.  (We need your official RSVPs and checks!)

Along with their RSVPs and checks, Trudie M. and Jerry C. sent donations.  Thank you so much!  Our classmates have been very generous which is helping to defray the cost of the reunion.  Many of you have contributed and we appreciate that!

A few emails from awhile ago–After Mrs. Stutzman died, Becky sent me this: I’m glad to say that I did tell Mrs. Stutzman that she was my favorite teacher, several years after she had retired. I wished there were lots of teachers like her. They broke the mold. You always learned something from her, even if it wasn’t English. But you also learned that too. It was always fun to see if she could be distracted from whatever she had in mind to teach that day or as someone said, sidetrack her from giving us a test.  She always made time for you, if you just needed to talk. She was awesome!!

Went to her viewing. Spoke to her niece, she said that Mrs. Stutzman had been on dialysis for the last ten years. She said Mrs. Stutzman put her foot down and said enough was enough, and just quit her treatment. She said she was going to go live with the Lord. She’d been in California for quite a while, with family.  

Linda R. has been working hard to set up the booklet on a webpage.  I need to send her the current updates, but here is what she says.  (Keep in mind she received the rough draft!) We have worked on the BBHS 1969 Booklet. We knew some people had limits on transmission to their email etc. We set it up as a web file and it can be accessed by anyone interested. You had mentioned about some changes. We can easily do that if you let us know for sure what needs added, changed or corrected. The address to get the booklet is: http://public.me.com/dsich  I thought even people who did not have their own computer, but had access  to a computer somewhere, whether it be at a friend’s or a library or other such place could get the info quite easily. It condensed the file tremendously and makes access so much easier and a lot quicker. Faster to load and easier to download. Some people have parameters on their email and super large files are slow and cause lots of problems. This just simplifies things a little. LD
I will get the revisions to Linda soon so she can update the booklet online.  Thank you for all your hard work, LD!  You did a tremendous job!

Mike H emailed that he was in a quandary about “Favorite Movies, Music and Memories” that I had asked about, so he shared this website that offers a trip down memory lane! My memory isn’t what it used to be.  I have a hard time sorting out what and when all of these happened.  The below site was just referenced by Kim Komando.  It helps sort them out for me. http://www.retroland.com/   Mike

Shelley shared the KHS (Kearney Class of ’69) website with us to show us what her husband’s class set up.  We may want to consider something like it to stay in contact between reunions.  www.khs69.com  There is a fee involved, but I think, due to your generosity, we can swing it.  It really is a cool website with music and all kinds of features.  Check it out and we can talk about it in July at the reunion.

The communication about cars led to Bill F and I shooting emails back and forth about his green Opel, driving ages, Mark Russell’s driver’s ed classes, etc.  Bill even sent me a picture of the Opel!  My mother bought me an old Opel that had been owned by Koefoots.  There were no front fenders on it and my father took it somewhere to have sheet metal aluminum fenders installed.  Very chic and the ladies loved it.  I remember Michelle and I cruising around in it during our freshman year.  I have a picture of the front of the car displaying the fenders at least.  I will try to find it and send it to you.  — I think I was driving earlier then 16.  I can’t remember for sure but I think it was because of the driver’s ed course I took from DR.  Anyway, I do remember driving some with my mother in the car, which indicate some time behind the wheel with a learners permit.  I remember now the Opel was green in color.Bill

It is fun to hear from you.  The little survey about ’60’s movies and music is fun.  Keep sending me your favorites!  Also, what you miss about the 1960’s.  Here are a couple responses: Jerry SFahrenheit 451, But I could not see so well from the back seat. SusanThe Pink Panther movies.  I thought Peter Sellers was so funny!  I used to go to the matinees with Patty Derr or Paula and a bunch of other girls, and we would laugh so hard!  And eat popcorn and salted nut rolls. Bill F –Doctor Zhivago Shelley Romeo & Juliet, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, Rosemary’s Baby, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Quite a diverse batch of movies, and I think they were all from 1968 and 1969. Dan JMidnight Cowboy starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. 

TrudieWhat a Day for a Daydream by The Lovin’ Spoonful.  Don’t know why but whenever I hear this song, it makes me smile.  I’m immediately flooded with memories of listening to it and sitting in my Mom’s kitchen with sun coming through the window. Jerry SBlue Velvet by Bobby Vinton. National Guard Armory, my first slow dance, and I fell head over heals in love Susan – Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells. It was a very long song and I remember working at the concession stand during basketball games and listening to it when sales were slow. Proud Mary by CCR was great riding around/cruising music!  Bill FPortrait of My Love by Steve Lawrence; Shelley S — I guess I would have to go with “Crimson & Clover” for my favorite song because it brings back a vivid memory of a dance I attended in my junior year.  Ruby Tuesday and Satisfaction by the Stones, and Hello, I Love You by the Doors are songs I memorized the words to and seem to have permanently committed to memory. Dan J — Just one?  “Easy to be Hard”  3 Dog Night  “These Eyes” no significance. All of the Beatles songs & many others; Hob – Ticket to Ride”  Beatles  1965

Nostalgic for–

Trudie the innocence.  I so wish my Grandkids could know the kind of freedom we had growing up where the whole town was our playground.  I think today’s kids are much more aware of all the dangers that are out there than we were.

Also, Dog and Suds chili dogs. I have never found one that tasted as good. 

Jerry SGood TV programs.  Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, Gun Smoke,

Lawrence Welk, American Bandstand, Wide World of Sports, etc.

Susan – being laid back and not worrying about time so much.  There was a freedom that is lacking now, where we could do what we wanted when we wanted. Now, kids have no time.  They are so scheduled up with sports, dance, all these activities, that they can’t just sit back and enjoy the moment.  We are all overscheduled these days.

Shelley People who were willing to stand up for what they believed; protesters, especially songwriter protesters, like Bob Dylan, and the impact they had on society.  Seems nobody cares these days, at least not like they did “back then.”

Dan JCriusin’ the Streets  & Parties

Jim H – I miss not having to worry about anything but myself!!!!!!

 

Send me your favorite music, favorite movies, and what you miss about 1969 and we can include the lists in the booklet along with the “The Cars We Drove” section.

 

Please keep our classmates in your thoughts and prayers.  We have some classmates that have joined the ranks of the unemployed, unfortunately, so we pray they find new jobs soon!  Also, Deb G is battling cancer and undergoing chemo now.  We pray for her speedy recovery.  We have classmates whose sons are fighting in Iraq  and Afghanistan.  Lynne’s son-in-law has been deployed to Afghanistan. Cortland’s son is in Iraq.  We pray for their quick success and return.  We have many happy events…Weddings and new babies.  We thank God for those things that keep us in balance.

 

Keep those emails coming!  I’m off to see my new baby girl this weekend!  She is about 6 weeks old now and is being baptized on Sunday.  Fun times!  Can’t wait to see her!  Coming soon–MORE GRANDMA PICTURES!